NASA's Planning Its Next Mission to Mars

NASA's Curiosity Rover studies the Martian surface.

NASA's Curiosity Rover studies the Martian surface. NASA

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A new rover will look for evidence of life.

NASA's Curiosity Rover landed on the Martian surface in 2012. Now NASA is working on a follow-up.

The rover is currently in development, but the planned launch date in 2020 will be here soon, so the space agency has a lot of work to do. 

The objectives for this rover's mission? To specifically seek out signs of life and to collect sample materials of the planet, prepare them in cache that could one day be returned to Earth by a future mission.

The rover will look very similar to the Curiosity model, and will use some of that mission's spare parts. This will save the mission money and minimize risk, as the Curiosity mission has already proven to be a successful. But there will also be new technology aboard the 2020 rover, including instruments that will have been designed to look for evidence of ancient life.

"Mars 2020 is a pivotal mission in our search for life that could finally answer the age-old question: Are we alone?" said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

To learn more, check out the video below from NASA: